Drumbeat: October 6, 2010

Future energy use answers can be found in a cubic mile of oil

For the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China built the world’s biggest sports arena – the idiosyncratic Bird’s Nest Stadium. Twenty-five storeys high, the stadium has an official volume of 4.9 million cubic metres. Fill this stadium with crude oil 850 times, and you equal annual global oil consumption. How best express this much oil? Forget billions of barrels. Try a cubic mile.

Here’s an original, illuminating and entertaining way to experience the energy debate, A Cubic Mile of Oil: Realities and Options for Averting the Looming Global Energy Crisis. Written by three California-based scientists (bioengineer Hewitt Crane, energy technologist Edwin Kinderman and organic chemist Ripudaman Malhotra) and published by Oxford University Press, Cubic Mile uses a simple volumetric metaphor to eliminate a bewildering technocratic Babel: a pool of oil one mile wide, one mile long and one mile deep.

Kurt Cobb: Is Venezuela the Next Flashpoint for Oil?

In a world desperate for new oil supplies, Venezuela beckons. But will its fumbling management of oil production lead to foreign intervention, covert or otherwise, in a effort to raise Venezuelan output?

Turbulent times ahead

The global energy industry is poised for the perfect storm — but the Calgary university professor who is forecasting the turbulence says this province will continue to reap benefits from its offshore oil.

If it’s done right, that is.

Dr. Harrie Vredenburg says the trick with resource industries is developing expertise you can export worldwide — not just the resources.

Iraq's new reserves buck 'peak oil' crisis

BAGHDAD (UPI) -- Iraq's sharp upward revision of its oil reserves to 143.1 billion barrels, and the prospect that there's much more to come, has cemented the country's status as a long-term energy producer when researchers say global oil output is set to decline.

Chevron sees US deepwater moratorium lifted "soon"

MENLO PARK, Calif., (Reuters) - Chevron Corp Chief Executive John Watson expects the U.S. deepwater drilling moratorium put in place after BP Plc's disastrous Gulf of Mexico accident to be lifted "soon."

"I can't predict a date," he said, but he said he senses a desire in Washington to lift it. "In our discussions that we have had with regulators, I think there's a desire to do it. I think they're working on the details so that they can do it in the proper way and assure the public that the business is safe."

Oilsands expansion 'fool's gold,' scientist warns

EDMONTON — Expansion of Alberta's oilsands must be avoided if the world is going to avoid disastrous effects of climate change, says one of the world's leading climate scientists.

James Hansen, of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, travelled from New York to appear Tuesday at the Energy Resources Conservation Board hearing into the proposed Total Joslyn North mine near Fort McMurray. The open-pit mine is slated to produce 100,000 barrels a day.

High shipping, Brent futures make Saudi crude OSPs less attractive

A rise in shipping rates, combined with a higher ICE Brent Weighted Average against Dated Brent, as well as strikes at France's Mediterranean terminals make Saudi Aramco's recent cuts to its official selling prices for next month less attractive than they seem, refining sources said Wednesday.

Saudi, Kuwait extend deadline for Khafji gas bids

A Saudi-Kuwaiti oil joint venture said it had extended bidding for the construction of gas and natural gas liquids (NGL) distribution facilities at the Khafji oilfield to Nov. 1.

Malawi's fuel shortages may hit growth - economist

LILONGWE (Reuters) - Fuel shortages in Malawi could weigh on its 2010 growth by reducing production at farms and firms that rely on diesel fuel for power, a leading economist said on Wednesday.

Malawi's economy is forecast to grow by 6.5 percent this year in real terms, with the retail and mining sectors leading the expansion.

But the southern African country's electricity supply can be unstable, leading firms to use diesel generators for power, and for the past four weeks Malawi has experienced critical shortages of fuel, especially diesel.

Q&A - How is the French strike affecting the oil market?

Strikers at top French oil port Fos-Lavera in Marseille will meet unions of nearby refineries on Wednesday over possible joint action, raising the prospect of a halt to production at several large refineries and a further jump in fuel prices.

French union officials said plants might be forced to halt output if the port strike continues, but the timing will depend on each refinery's configuration and inventories.

French Transport Ministry: No Oil Stock Issue Due To Port Strike

PARIS -(Dow Jones)- There is no oil stock issue in France following the rolling strike at Marseile port's Fos-Lavera oil terminal, which has been ongoing for ten days, a spokeswoman for the French transports ministry said Wednesday.

Refiners hit by the strike have plenty of crude oil stocks at other refineries on French ground, she said, adding that the government doesn't foresee any oil shortage on France's mainland, including gasoline and heating fuel. "We have important stocks of refined oil products in France," she stressed.

Fuel shortage risk in south-west

THERE is a risk of an oil shortage in the south-west because of on-going strikes at the Fos-sur-Mer and Lavera oil terminals near Marseille.

The facilities have now been blocked for 10 days by striking workers. Forty-four ships have been waiting offshore unable to unload cargoes.

Free market price for gas isn’t always possible

Keeping in mind the fact that gas is not a very fungible product, you cannot move it around very easily unless and until it is in the form of LNG, and LNG is a very capex intensive product. So you have to have a field development which would take the failures and you have to have expensive shipping and LNG ships and then you will have to have regasification terminal.

So the whole process, whole chain is fairly long and fairly capex-intensive. So if you are going to import gas in the form of LNG, clearly you will have to have very long term contracts to start with, you will have to recover the capex incurred in the entire value chain. So naturally the price of LNG will be a lot higher than maybe what is the price of domestic gas. So it is a very regional market. For example, in the US, if you see at this point of time, you have actually a surfeit of gas based on shale gas production which has ramped up significantly over there. If you see the Henry Hub spot prices, it is somewhere about $3.5 per million BTU as of now and you have such high prices in China and China is obviously a big deficit market as far as gas is concerned.

Petrobras to Start up Taps in Late 2010

Petrobras has christened, at the Brasfels shipyard, in Angra dos Reis (RJ), the P-57 vessel platform, which will operate in the Jubarte field, in the Espírito Santo portion of the Campos Basin, 80 km off the Espírito Santo coast. This unit opens the way for a new generation of platforms, designed and built based on an engineering concept that focuses on streamlining projects and standardizing equipment. This is a model that will be a reference for future Petrobras platforms, such as the P-58 and P-62, and for units that will operate in the Santos Basin pre-salt cluster.

Petrobras: 2010 Oil Output To Be 2%-3% Below Target Of 2.1 Million BPD

RIO DE JANEIRO -(Dow Jones)- Brazilian state-controlled oil giant Petroleo Brasileiro SA or Petrobras, said Wednesday it won't meet its 2010 oil output target of 2.1 million barrels a day.

North Dakota gas plant buries debt with fed gov't

A western North Dakota synthetic gas plant that injects more than half of its carbon dioxide emissions underground also has buried its debt with the federal government.

Repsol Aims to Boost Argentine Participation in YPF

(Bloomberg) -- Repsol YPF SA, Spain’s biggest oil company, aims to sell part of its stake in its Argentine unit to local investors, Chief Executive Officer Antonio Brufau said.

The Spanish oil producer and refiner is seeking Argentine partners in YPF SA, as the unit is called, either through a private sale or a share sale, Brufau told reporters in Buenos Aires.

Michael Klare: This expansion has not gone unnoticed in Washington

There's a battle going on over the future of US policy and strategy. For now the focus is on terrorism and Afghanistan. But when that winds down, all eyes will be on China and its rush for resources.

President Obama sees the risk. He talked with China's President, Hu Jintao, about co-operating in developing renewable energy. But the pressure to procure resources is greater than the incentives to develop renewables. The US military is divided on the issue. The Army and the Marines see terrorism as the greatest threat, but the Navy believes China's growing resource dependency on Africa and the Middle East explains its naval build-up and that the US must expand its own navy.

China is not intending to be a threat. It needs a vast amount of resources to maintain its economic growth – it will need twice as much oil by 2030 as it does now. Most of it is imported and it will need to come from the same places that the US gets its oil from. That will be seen as an economic threat – and a military one in some eyes.

Study: Global warming, energy shortages, food scarcity and recession could cause industrial 'failure' in 10 years

The study predicts the "terminal depletion' of the world's traditional mineral energy reserves oil, gas, coal, and uranium within the first quarter of the 21st century, and warns of "catastrophic convergence' between energy, food and water shortages due to abrupt global warming as early as 2018. Developed economies could consequently experience a "collapse' in public services, while large states such as the US, Russia and China would struggle to maintain territorial integrity, potentially becoming embroiled in geopolitical conflict for land and resources.

Government blocked spill estimate

The White House in the spring blocked release of government estimates on the worst-case scenario of the amount of oil that was spewing from BP's well in the Gulf of Mexico, the presidential commission looking into the accident said today.

Spill Panel Faults Obama Response Effort

WASHINGTON—The Obama administration's response to the BP PLC oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was affected by "a sense of over optimism" about the disaster that "may have affected the scale and speed with which national resources were brought to bear," the staff of a special commission investigating the disaster found.

Gulf oil spill response ill-managed, presidential panel says

The report said that "for the first ten days of the spill, it appears that a sense of over-optimism affected responders. Responders almost uniformly noted that, while they understood that they were facing a major spill, they believed that BP would get the well under control."

As a result, the working paper said, "at least one high-level Coast Guard official thought that the oil would not come ashore and hesitated to open additional command posts."

Peak Coal Theory: Profit From the Peaks

Conventional thinking is that we have 250 years of remaining coal reserves, that there is no need to worry about supply — at least, not during our lifetimes...

But, as we've been writing about in these pages for some time now, the "peak"-ing of a resource involves the supply of easy-to-get-to, high quality stuff. And while I hate to be the bearer of bad news, the reality is that oil isn't the only fuel source with a peak theory...

U.S. cities increasingly ban or tax plastic shopping bags

More U.S. cities and territories are combating litter by banning or taxing plastic shopping bags, despite the recent defeat of a statewide ban in California.

Four-door Smart car coming to the U.S.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Smart USA, the company that sells the tiny Smart ForTwo in the United States, is working on an agreement with Nissan's North American arm to produce a bigger four-door car for sale here late next year.

Frito-Lay sends noisy, 'green' SunChips bag to the dump

Frito-Lay is preparing to quietly sack its "green" but noisy SunChips bag.

Roughly 18 months after Frito-Lay, with great fanfare, launched a biodegradable SunChips bag made from plant material that was billed as 100% compostable, the company is yanking the noisy material from the packages of five of six SunChips flavors immediately.

Jeff Rubin: We have run out of oil we can afford to burn

As I head down to Washington to speak at the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas 2010 World Oil Conference this week, I can’t help but reflect on how far the peak oil movement has come over the last decade. It’s not too hard to figure out why. There is a very simple litmus test for the credibility of the movement’s central theory of depletion—the price of oil. With oil already trading at over $80 (U.S.) per barrel in the shadow of the world’s deepest-ever postwar recession, I guess there’s not much of a debate anymore.

Jeff Rubin: Canada’s two new solitudes

Fortunately for Canada, our first encounter with peak oil did not exact the same toll as it did in the U.S. or elsewhere. We can thank our oil resources, not our chartered banks, for that. Even so, unemployment jumped to over 9 per cent and in the process dramatically changed the fiscal landscape in the country.

But that oil blessing may soon become a double-edged sword. The very oil reserves that will soon make Canada an energy superpower are making the loonie a petro-currency. Already around parity with the greenback, the Canadian dollar will soar to unprecedented heights against the U.S. dollar as triple-digit oil prices pull more and more daily oil production from the tar sands. And a strong dollar means one thing to hockey fans: NHL franchises leaving Dixie and the desert, and moving to Canada.

New online publication covering green issues launches today

Transition Voice launched today as the first magazine devoted to the subject of oil and fossil fuel depletion and what it means to the economy.

The online publication will run news, analysis, and features to help families, communities, business leaders, and government officials better understand the challenge of finding affordable energy and the need for our whole society to start moving towards an economy beyond fossil fuels.

...The launch issue of Transition Voice features interviews with the late Matt Simmons, oil-industry investment banker, as well as Rob Hopkins, the founder of the Transition movement. Dr. James Hansen, one of the world’s leading climatologists, agreed to let the magazine reprint the speech he gave at the Appalachia Rising rally in Washington, DC in September. The issue also offers pieces from more than a dozen contributors across the United States and beyond, with articles on the rise of Permaculture, how to talk about global climate disruption and the psychology of peak oil, and other features including book reviews, recipes, and an interactive reader poll.

When the Market Fails

The market does some crucial jobs so well that we're tempted to make a quasi-religion of it. But at other jobs it fails: for example, at giving a timely signal to prepare for "peak oil."

In their new book, analyst Robert Hirsch and his colleagues take on the coming decline in global oil production, or as they put it, "the impending world energy mess." They estimate that a decline will start in 2-5 years, following the present "fluctuating plateau" on a graph of production.

The kicker is their conclusion that, once we start a "crash program," shifting our fleet of vehicles will take "more than a decade"; and building the infrastructure for new fuels, 10-20 years.

Bunbury at risk of oil crisis: academic

An international oil expert has warned Bunbury could be vulnerable to an oil crisis if it does not develop a strategy to cope with any block in oil supply.

Speaking at Edith Cowan University last night, Australian Assoc-iation for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas convener Bruce Robinson said the City of Bunbury should create an Oil Vulnerability and Mitig-ation Strategy to protect the City from a crisis in global oil supply.

Future Human: End of the Oil Age, October 13, London

Future Human's latest event is a debate - The End of the Oil Age - featuring a panel of guests who will debate the future of energy and its impact on people’s lives.

Panellists include Jeremy Leggett, founder of the UK’s largest independent solar energy company, Solarcentury, Shaun Chamberlin, author of The Transition Timeline and Mark Stevenson, comedian and author of An Optimist’s Tour of the Future.

Crude Declines From Five-Month High Before U.S. Government Supply Report

Oil dropped, erasing earlier gains, as traders bet that crude’s rally to a five-month high had left oil too expensive while a rebound in the dollar reduced the appeal of commodities to investors.

Oil earlier reached its highest price since May after a report showed U.S. gasoline inventories dropped last week by the most since May 2009. The Energy Department may say today that crude supplies rose by 413,000 barrels, a Bloomberg News survey shows. Oil’s 14-day relative strength index rose above 70, a sign that prices may drop after rising too far, too fast.

Shipping Naphtha to Asia Dries Up as German Demand Rises

European refiners will export little or no naphtha to Asia this month amid demand from German petrochemicals producers that has driven prices to the highest level in five months.

Asian-bound shipments of the oil product, which can be used to make motor fuel or as a feedstock for plastics, may drop to zero, from about 160,000 metric tons in September, according to a Bloomberg survey of six traders. Exports peaked this year at about 500,000 tons in May.

Steve LeVine - Foreign Policy: Iraq Is Back In The Game

In the world of oil reserve forecasting, Iraq is hunky, handsome, and — to its dissatisfaction — often overlooked. Today, it sought to rectify this negligence with the announcement of a whopping 24 percent increase in its estimated reserves. With a poke in the eye to a traditional rival, Iraq's oil minister said the country had overtaken Iran as the world's fourth-largest petrostate, with 143 billion barrels of oil, or more than half of Saudi Arabia's mother lode.

Vietnam demands release of fishermen held in China

Vietnam has demanded the unconditional release of nine fishermen detained by China last month, Vietnamese media reported today, as tension rose in the latest dispute in the South China Sea.

Militants attack British embassy vehicle in Yemen

(Reuters) - Suspected al Qaeda militants attacked two Western targets in Yemen on Wednesday, firing a rocket at a senior British diplomat's car and killing a Frenchman at a gas and oil installation.

The attacks bore the hallmarks of al Qaeda, which has threatened to strike against Western targets and the Yemeni government, which declared war on the group's local arm after it claimed a failed attack on a U.S.-bound airliner in December.

Houston Ship Channel partially reopens

HOUSTON (AP) -- The Houston Ship Channel was partially reopened Wednesday after an electric tower that had teetered over the waterway since a weekend barge accident was lowered to the ground, the Coast Guard said.

Currency headwinds hit our only listed oil refiner Caltex

Caltex expects petrol demand to be flat, although offset to a degree by resource sector-related diesel growth. Peak-oil theorists will be chuffed to hear that increased fuel efficiency has blunted the effect of population growth, but alternative fuels won't grab meaningful market share for another five to 10 years.

TNK-BP Set to Buy BP Algerian Assets in Foreign Expansion

TNK-BP, the energy venture between BP Plc and Russian billionaires, will look to acquire the London- based company’s Algerian fields to accelerate overseas expansion.

TNK-BP’s billionaire shareholder and interim chief executive officer, Mikhail Fridman, said he hopes “their fate is decided positively.” He spoke in Algiers, where he is accompanying Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

Australian Oil Spills Are `Inevitable,' Report on Coal Ship Grounding Says

Future oil spills off the coast of Australia’s Queensland state are “inevitable” as ship traffic increases, according to a report analyzing the April grounding of a Chinese coal carrier on the Great Barrier Reef.

The incident involving the vessel Shen Neng 1 “highlights the vulnerability of Queensland’s coastline to a significant oil spill,” the report released today by the state government shows. More shipping and “the continued likelihood of severe climatic events suggests that the threat of marine oil spills will remain and that future oil spills are inevitable.”

Solar Power Plants to Rise on U.S. Land

SAN FRANCISCO — Proposals for the first large solar power plants ever built on federal lands won final approval on Tuesday from Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, reflecting the Obama administration’s resolve to promote renewable energy in the face of Congressional inaction.

Good news and bad news on the energy revolution

As European governments begin to outline concrete plans for a green-energy revolution, the vast costs of the endeavour are beginning to emerge, raising the prospect of public resistance that could stall the process. The opening last month of the world's largest offshore wind farm by Sweden's Vattenfall off the south-eastern coast of England, a group of 100 giant wind turbines capable of supplying 200,000 households with electricity, underscored the UK's determination to meet 15 per cent of its energy needs from green sources by 2020.

For Those Near, the Miserable Hum of Clean Energy

VINALHAVEN, Me. — Like nearly all of the residents on this island in Penobscot Bay, Art Lindgren and his wife, Cheryl, celebrated the arrival of three giant wind turbines late last year. That was before they were turned on.

“In the first 10 minutes, our jaws dropped to the ground,” Mr. Lindgren said. “Nobody in the area could believe it. They were so loud.”

Now, the Lindgrens, along with a dozen or so neighbors living less than a mile from the $15 million wind facility here, say the industrial whoosh-and-whoop of the 123-foot blades is making life in this otherwise tranquil corner of the island unbearable.

Valet bike parking eases commute

LONG BEACH — With the help of bicycle advocates, this city and others are making it easier for people to park their cars and pedal to their destinations by providing valet bike parking.

"The whole idea is just to make an encouraging environment for people to ride their bikes. If they have somewhere safe to park, they'll do so," says Sumire Gant, transportation programs officer for this city near Los Angeles.

Toyota links homes, utilities and vehicles

TOKYO - Toyota is pairing its little known housing business with its expertise in green cars to sell computer systems that link homes, utilities and vehicles to reduce energy use.

Climate talks struggle as China, U.S. face off

(Reuters) - The United States said on Wednesday that U.N. climate talks were making less progress than hoped because of a rift over rising economies' emission goals, while China rejected pressure and put the onus on rich nations.

China Emissions Won't Peak Until GDP Per Head Matches Others, Xinhua Says

China’s greenhouse gas emissions are unlikely to peak before its per capita GDP reached $40,000, the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing Xie Zhenhua, the country’s top climate change official.

China’s current per capita GDP just exceeds $3,000, the news agency said.

UN agency to list 30 solutions to climate change

In the run up to next month's major climate change conference in Cancun, the United Nations Environment Programme will release one case study daily for 30 days to prove that solutions to combat global warming - ranging from planting trees to creating mass markets for solar water heaters - are available, accessible and replicable.

Known as "30 Ways in 30 Days," the scheme was launched on Tuesday in Mexico City at a summit co-hosted by UNEP, the Global Compact, and the non-governmental organizations World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Global Initiatives.

Global warming will vastly change Canada: study

But even that two-degree change will bring about all kinds of changes, this new report says, including:

• melting half the summer Arctic sea ice
• significantly reducing runoff in the South Saskatchewan River basin
• affecting shipping through the Great Lakes
• displacing Atlantic salmon from the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Grand Banks
• increasing risk to people and property from extreme weather

The changes would also affect insect populations, putting more trees at risk of pest infestations, and allow tick and mosquito populations to rise, putting more people at risk of Lyme disease and other vector-borne diseases.

Yet not all the impacts of climate change would be negative.

A two-degree temperature increase could allow more tree growth in some northerly locations; increase some kinds of crop yields; allow greater access to northern oil, gas and mineral resources; and an increased abundance of Atlantic cod north of the 60th parallel. And while sports, such as skiing, would likely be hurt, others such as golf could benefit.

Is this what the future will look like?

Canadians got a look at one vision of how climate change could affect regions across the country, as the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy yesterday released its Degrees of Change diagram. Intended for use in 12,000 Canadian schools, it may mostly depress tomorrow's leaders with its (often vague and speculative) predictions. However, its call for adaptation for "climate prosperity" also includes some bright sides, including longer crop seasons and better golf weather. Some of the scenarios are based on a warm-up of as much as five degrees:

Postcards from the future: illustrators imagine how London could be affected by climate change

A display of photomontages imagining how London could be affected by climate change is on display at the Museum of London from 1 October 2010 to 6 March 2011. The display and events form part of the Mayor’s Story of London festival and the events are funded by Renaissance London. Like postcards from the future, familiar views of the capital have been digitally transformed by illustrators Robert Graves and Didier Madoc-Jones. They bring home the full impact of global warming, food scarcity, rising sea levels and how all Londoners will need to innovate and adapt to survive.

Arctic sea ice extent falls to third-lowest extent; downward trend persists

This September, Arctic sea ice extent was the third-lowest in the satellite record, falling below the extent reached last summer. The lowest- and second-lowest extents occurred in 2007 and 2008. Satellite data indicate that Arctic sea ice is continuing a long-term decline, and remains younger and thinner than it was in previous decades.

"All indications are that sea ice will continue to decline over the next several decades," said NSIDC Director Mark Serreze. "We are still looking at a seasonally ice-free Arctic in twenty to thirty years."

The carbon dioxide precipice

Few recognize the magnitude of the threat climate change poses to our planet; some activists and scientists are trying to change that.

Re: Arctic sea ice extent falls to third-lowest extent; downward trend persists

More details, with graphics, can be found here:


E. Swanson

Eyeballing the trend, it looks the arctic will be ice-free in the summer on average by 2050. It looks like the first possible ice-free summer will be in 2035. Being a pessimist, I would think that the crazy decrease in multi-year ice over the last three years will lead to an ice-free summer by 2025. Once it goes ice-free in the winter, good luck growing any corn in the Corn Belt.

Oh yeah -- welcome back Probable Declinist Queen.

"Once it goes ice-free in the winter, good luck growing any corn in the Corn Belt. "

Why so? Can you explain this please. Ta.

Couple of reasons:

According to a NASA Goddard Institute of Space Studies computer model, Kansas would be 4 degrees warmer in the winter without Arctic ice, which normally creates cold air masses that frequently slide southward into the United States. Warmer winters are bad news for wheat farmers, who need freezing temperatures to grow winter wheat. And in summer, warmer days would rob Kansas soil of 10 percent of its moisture, drying out valuable cropland.

Nonlinear Effects of Weather on Corn Yields∗

We find a significant nonlinear relationship between temperature and corn
yields that is roughly in line with the concept of degree days: yields are
increasing in temperature for moderate temperatures, but become quickly
harmful once temperatures exceed 30◦C. This relationship is highly significant.

A few points:

1. Volume is telling a different, and in my opinion scarier story than extent. It is somewhat like the difference between oil production declines and net export declines:


2. Because of #1, I expect Sea Ice Extent to exhibit a linear decline (as it has so far), but then go non-linear at some point as volumes get too low.

3. When minimum extent goes to zero, this is not the same as an "ice-free summer". When minimum extent = 0, that just means that one day in September had no ice extent.

4. Because there is virtually no sun in the arctic in late September, #2 is actually more a symptom of problems than a problem in and of itself. The real problem is June Average extent (and to a lesser extent May and July averages), which is what will determine the bulk of the albedo feedback.

The melting of Arctic sea-ice continues beyond the seasonal maximum in insolation. That's because the water of the Arctic Ocean warms and this warmth allows continued melting into late September. That the layer of water on the surface of the Arctic is warming is an indication of both the ocean-sea-ice albedo difference and the possible changes in currents which tend to bring warmer water into the Arctic from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

It's true that the albedo of sea-ice covered by fresh snow is rather high and the albedo of water when the sun is high in the sky is low, but these conditions do not pertain at high latitudes in summer. As the air above the sea-ice warms, the surface melts, forming ponds on top of the sea-ice. At the same time, the elevation of the Sun above the horizon can not rise very high, thus the albedo of the ocean water is greater than at lower latitudes. There is also likely to be an ongoing increase in downwelling infrared due to the addition of CO2 to the atmosphere, which being absorbed by both the water and sea-ice would increase the melting as well.

E. Swanson

There's another ice-loss effect independent of melting: storm-induced breakup of thin layers, which accelerates the melt rate the following season.
If there's one projection we can make with confidence, it's that the changes to the Arctic won't be linear.

There's another ice-loss effect independent of melting: storm-induced breakup of thin layers

I think that is a good point. More open water means that waves aren't damped out as much. I don't see this as accelerating melt in the next season, rather more in the current season I would think. I would think next seasons melt primarily has to do with home much heat is gained and lost.

Winter storms in our North Pacific/Gulf of Alaska made waves that helped break up the ANTARCTIC ice sheets.

It is the first time I have seen a linking between the corn belt and Arctic ice. Do you have any additional information or links? thanks.

What you read and hear about climate change falls into one of five categories:
1. Settled science
2. What most scientists agree is true, but there is some responsible scientific dissent.
3. Unproven. Not part of the scientific consensus. Inadequate data.
4. Bad science
5. BS by non-scientists.

Right now, accellerated ice cap melting is in the third category. Maybe this will change with another five or ten years of data, but it isn't part of the last IPCC report.

The decrease in summer coverage of the Arctic Ocean by floating sea ice seems pretty clear. But that is not really "ice cap" ice.

"Ice cap" probably refers to grounded glacial ice in Greenland, Northern Canada and Antarctica. The effect of AGW on the "ice cap" according to that definition probably is in category 3.

The IPCC Reports are assessment reports are published every six or seven years and writing them takes about three years. As result there is a lag time time w/ current research. That is, by the time they are published they are already out of date. The 4th Assessment report was published in 2007 and the next one will not be published until 2014. They also are political documents that have to be arrived at by consensus by representatives from many nations. The late Steven Schneider's Book, Science as a Contact Sport, included a very enlightening insider view of the process and its flaws.

The fact that current assessments were not included in the 4th report is not an indication of their scientific validity. The evaluation of the research in the peer review literature is the determination as to how sound the science really is.

6. Pointing out how the structuring of trying to do something ends up being an object lesson in feathering the nest of groups like investment bankers.

About 30 percent of the funds go into actual projects that reduce emissions, such as a wind farm in a developing nation, reports BBC.

The rest of the money goes into the following channels:

30 percent – Investment banks often buy up carbon offsets before a project is up and running, and they take an average 30 percent of the total in profits and operations.

15 percent – Shareholders of the companies putting the offset project together tend to take 15 percent in profits.

15 percent – Taxes, bank interest and fees.

10 percent – The margin normally taken by the retailer of carbon offsets, who sells them to corporations, individuals and other entities.


You just love to try to derail rational conversation on this topic by twisting the facts to make it all look like a plot by investment banks.

One of your petty tactics is constantly reposting this single study done by a group that is in a competing business, and then misrepresenting even that.

This from your own link:

Carbon Retirement itself is not entirely unbiased. The group promotes purchases of allowances from the EU Emission Trading Scheme, instead of carbon offsets that might be used to set up renewable energy in developing nations.

If you were half serious about this, you could have used about 5% of the time it took you reposting old links to do some basic analysis that would show that climate credits could conceivable account for 1% of investment bank revenues in the next five or ten years.

Investment banks look at carbon markets the way we might look at a single M&M. If it's in their hands, they'll eat it, but if not so what.

Investment Banks aren't driving carbon markets and carbon markets aren't going to mean much for investment banks.

But you have posted over 100 times (I'm sure) with this same inaccurate rant.

Why don't you do a little work and put some analysis, facts, and numbers behind it for once.

Carbon credits are a tiny part of clean energy projects. And the only way that an investment bank or anyone else could make 30% on them is by buying them on the open market, bearing risk, and selling them at a higher price. If the 30% figure is true, which I doubt, it is only because the market is in such early stages that there is a huge risk involved in buying credits. With carbon prices falling, I wouldn't be surprised if banks have been net losers of money in this sector.

I would with dozens of small clean energy project developers. They are all dying to sell credits, but have no buyers. If an investment bank, or anyone else, would buy these from them at half face value, they would be delighted. They don't care if the buyer makes a profit. Buying credits before a project is up and running and then hoping to be able to sell afterwards is huge risk for banks and a bonanza for project developers.

The 30% spread and the 10% transaction margin are functions of a young industry with a huge amount of risk. They will go away. The other uses of funds are fine. You have to pay taxes and if clean energy project developers get some early return on their capital, great.

But there are thousands of small projects going on around the world and the data is not public. The study (press release) that you link to is a ball park estimate by a biased competing business. It was worthless the first time you posted it, the 50th time, the 100th time, and now..

twisting the facts to make it all look like a plot by investment banks.

So you accept the reporting as factual. You just want to go for the 'theory of conspiracy' angle and claim there is distortion in the presentation.

Good. Now we can move on to - is being 70% useless acceptable?

Why don't you do a little work and put some analysis, facts, and numbers behind it for once.

And this would somehow change your position?

But you have posted over 100 times (I'm sure) with this same inaccurate rant.

You just established that you accepted the report as correct.

And I'll keep reposting the link as you've accepted the contents as correct.

basic analysis that would show that climate credits could conceivable account for 1% of investment bank revenues in the next five or ten years.

And that is relevant to the topic exactly how? It is fine to do a screw job because, in the case of the screwing we're chatting about it's only 1%?

Tell ya what - given its only 1% of their revenue they can give up that 30% the report cites. Its for saving the planet, no?

The 30% spread and the 10% transaction margin are functions of a young industry with a huge amount of risk.

And thus the nub of the argument. If this Carbon mitigation effort is about saving the planet what kind of AMORAL SOB thinks that 40% is acceptable, let alone the report's 70%?

It was worthless the first time you posted it, the 50th time, the 100th time, and now..

You can say "thank you" to me for educating you and removing your ignorance.

The Volt is on tour and I just got confirmation for my drive:

Dear Andre,

Thank you for registering to drive the Chevrolet Volt during the Volt Unplugged tour. Please join us for your drive on Thursday, October 14 at 2:00 PM at the historic Presidio. You’ll get the opportunity to take the Volt for a short drive and chat with engineers and members of the Volt team.
Bring a copy of this e-mail with you to the drive. Please note you must be 21 years of age or older to drive the Volt, and must present a valid driver’s license. Please plan to arrive 15 minutes early to complete the necessary paperwork before your drive.

Now solving peak oil, one car at a time. BRING ON THE VOLT!!

Don't mistake my fascination with technology for a belief that we are in any way "saved" by these cars.

People who don't understand the mess we're in with debt should watch the economist Steve Keen discuss it here (30 min):
On debt and the economy: How do we pay for all this?

Then layer on top oil depletion and it's easy to see that not many of these cars are going to get into the market. We are entering Energy Descent with the vehicle fleet we have and it's not going to change much on the way down. I think we'll mostly see a lot of cars traded for scooters, personally. I'm already seeing more scooters on the streets of San Francisco. The fleet is already shrinking here in the U.S. and that will continue.

About two years ago, during the month or so that the federal government was considering what to do about a collapsing GM, I sent letters to my two senators suggesting that we should give GM only enough money to pay their bankruptcy lawyers, and then do an orderly shutdown of GM.

My reasoning was that it would take us about ten years to use up all the estimated 230 million vehicles already on our roads, which would probably coincide with the end of gasoline availability for most privately owned vehicles.

My best guess now is that most of the new vehicles being sold in the USA this year will never reach their expected 180,000 miles average life, unless maybe they are rounded up and exported to China.

A couple of years ago we traded our nice but expensive and thirsty Santa Fe for a much less expensive 2000cc car. That will be paid off shortly, as is my 1999 1500cc car. My wife and I are contemplating how to further reduce our monthly expenses, should we sell the horses and if it makes sense to try to sell our home. My job is about as secure as I can make it, but I am unlikely to ever see a salary increase. We are doing comparatively well all things considered, but in that light it is almost absurd to contemplate an overcomplicated, overpriced sedan that is still a money loser for GM. In my world, and in the that of many others, such a product is simply a non-event.

There is no reason that I cannot keep my present vehicles running for at least another 10 years, which is probably long enough to get us seriously into post peak collapse - if I can even hold on to them that long. Which means they are very likely the last vehicles I will ever own. Beyond that, the next year will show us just how short lived and shallow the "recovery" really was. The auto industry is already dead.

Steve Keen doesn't understand that debt is a tool, and a very good and useful one.

There is a problem with savings, not with debt. Savings are sitting in corporate accounts and in non-productive 'financial' investments.

Of course, the problem with savings is a matter of public policy. Good public policy, at this point in time, would see a significant increase in demand stimulus through additional government spending, with investment guided by a stiff carbon tax/import tariff. An intelligent political discourse in this election year would be based on the slogan "get savings off the sidelines", and not on the tired and ignorance based slogans about public debt.

Unemployment is a problem. Long term unemployment is a disaster. While debt is a device, a product of human ingenuity as surely as the pump is, or the number zero. Debt puts resources, most importantly human resources, to work. Debt is a key component of our financial infrastructure. The financial infrastructure is as important to a society's well-being as is transportation infrastructure, or the infrastructure of social reproduction such as education.

A lot of people are locked into an understanding of economics that flows from their experience maintaining a household. Big mistake. They then are easily suckered into the idea that government should be run like a business. Even bigger mistake.

Except it's not a mistake for those who have positioned themselves to personally profit from government. And this group are mostly in the 'private' sector, despite ignorant claims about public sector employees. When you see someone promoting a 'business-like' approach to government, watch out because someone is setting you up for wealth extraction.

That's certainly a nice summary of the economic view of the world that was predominant for much of the last 80 or so years.

There is another view that began to be popularized around 30 years ago that believes that growth comes from cutting taxes and reducing deficits.

We are living in an economy where these two views are still vying to be the "truth."

I don't know which one is "right," if even if either of them is "right." I do know this... both maintain that growth is the goal of an economic system. As such, I find both a failure in helping me to understand how we can build a meaningful economic future.

The two views are both partly right. Both government spending to stimulate demand and cutting taxes to encourage saving have the end goal of increasing investment - the acquisition of long-lived assets which provide a return over a number of years and an opportunity for stable employment.

Both are very inefficient in accomplishing the goal.

There is another view that began to be popularized around 30 years ago that believes that growth comes from cutting taxes and reducing deficits.

And that view is nonresponsive to the abundant data that shows it is false. To carry a pun too far (since you only mention competing views, which differs from the promotion of one), that is the Shaman's view, i.e. it is religiously held. Scandanavia is beating our growth rates with a large government sector. It's about net investment in productive assets, including human assets like education. Some of that investment is more effectively done with public money. Some is more effectively done with private money. But, those who have the most money fear that government will redistribute some of their wealth, so the mercilessly attack the concept of government.

Excuse me, but your comment sounds like a paper thin back-of-the-hand dismissal of Keen whom you appear to have not even read. Worse, if you have read Keen, then you apparently totally misunderstand him. I would suggest spending a bit more time reading Keen more closely and deeply before dismissing him so cavalierly.

What is the nature of the misunderstanding?

Steve Keen doesn't understand that debt is a tool, and a very good and useful one.

Oh, I'm sure he understands it's a tool. The bigger point is that the neoclassical model of the world is not very accurate — it can't be if it doesn't include debt in its math.

That's why almost none of the >15,000 economists foresaw the global financial crisis (GFC) and the ones who did used the "accounting" model to do so. Steve Keen was one of the few who went public warning of the problem back in 2005 when he started publishing his blog.

Last year, when the paper below came out, there were about a dozen economists who were known to have gone on record saying that we were/are heading for trouble:

“No One Saw This Coming”: Understanding Financial Crisis Through Accounting Models

In the video I link to above Keen mentions that the number had risen to about three dozen. If you need better evidence that the current model most every economist is using is inaccurate, I can't imagine it being possible.

Your view of the world has brought us to the brink of a depression. I recommend that you jettison it and adopt one that has better predictive value.

Yuppers. Right now you have public support for roads because, for all but the very poorest, the public either gets use from the roads or thinks that they can.

As the energy needed to keep up the roads continues to rise in price and if the only cars will be far more expensive than the present ones - what incentive will people have to support the roads?

Don't mistake my fascination with technology for a belief that we are in any way "saved" by these cars.

I won't. Ever if we are. I'm just glad that others look at these things and are intrigued. Decades of car buying and I've never owned a GM product, I would consider a Volt as a possible first.

Then layer on top oil depletion and it's easy to see that not many of these cars are going to get into the market.

Oil depletion was happening before cars had even been INVENTED, its hardly a reason not to acquire one. Not having a garage is a better reason.

I think we'll mostly see a lot of cars traded for scooters, personally.

Another excellent answer to increased fuel prices. Solving peak oil...one SCOOTER at a time. Myself, I prefer motorcycles, although hybrid technology being what it is, I've got a cage which gets better around town mileage than my larger touring bike.

Oil depletion was happening before cars had even been INVENTED, its hardly a reason not to acquire one.

And geologists and petroleum engineers never were able to quantify depletion, even though as you say it was staring them in the face since the beginning.

And geologists and petroleum engineers never were able to quantify depletion, even though as you say it was staring them in the face since the beginning.

Of course they were. They quantified it well enough to predict we would run out in a finite time frame in 1886. (Maybe even 1875, but I haven't been able to track down the exact reference yet). That certainly qualifies as "quantifying depletion", as in, fully depleted.

And all future geologists took this information as conventional wisdom (estimates are useless) and that is why we we never got better estimates. Look at how long it took them to acknowledge plate tectonics.

Look at how long it took them to acknowledge plate tectonics.

A rather simple minded cheap shot, IMHO. Geologists in many parts of the world (Europe, S. Africa for example) began to at least acknolwedge the possibility of Continental Drift quite early. (Plate Tectonics is actually a later, rather different idea.) Unfortunately a highly influental group of geologists in North American resisted much too strongly for way too long.

Such comments as yours make good sound bites but are far from accurate, and don't add much to serious debate. I would suggest if want to learn something of the history of continental drift you might want to read some of Naomi Oreskes work, such as: The Rejection of Continental Drift: Theory and Method in American Earth Science , or Plate Tectonics: An Insiders History of the Modern Theory of The Earth .

Paradigm shifts are often messy, perhaps in your field as well as geology?

A rather simple minded cheap shot, IMHO.

Its his MO. He's still cheesed that not paying attention to the heuristics gets his foot stuck in his mouth like 1 in every 4 posts.

Poor baby, can't keep up with the maths apparently.

Yup...thats why they pays us well....don't needs no maths to drill dem holes!

Do you just make this stuff up as you go along because picking up a history book is just beneath you, what with it not having enough equations in it or something?

Wouch! Looks like you've said some meaningful things in the past, to have them that stired up. Keep it up, it makes interesting reading.

Following a link in "The Carbon Dioxide Precipice" was this interesting but depressing story from Bill McKibben about trying to get Obama to put solar hot water panels back on the White House.


That's the same story that was published at Huffington Post and a whole slew of other sites.

And it's not so depressing now. Obama has agreed to put up solar panels. I would guess McKibben's visit had an impact.

That old solar panel, good as it was in it's day, is not the best today. Perhaps it should have been given to the Smithsonian Institution as a relic of an earlier technology. I suppose that President Obama would like to have the best panels installed on the Whitehouse (or nearby) as a showcase for today's latest advances, since they have been tested and certified by the SRCC. A batch of those evacuated tube panels would do that rather well. Unfortunately, last I checked, most of those evacuated tube panels are made in China...

E. Swanson

McKibben did not expect Obama to put that relic on the White House. It was a symbol. Many solar companies offered to put new, state of the art panels up for free, but I imagine there are probably rules against that.

but I imagine there are probably rules against that.

Isn't Obama the President (the guy who supposedly makes the rules?), or does he need to get permission from Lord Bankfiend for that too?

He's president, not dictator.

In this case, I would guess there are rules against the federal government accepting such freebies from companies because it appears to be an endorsement (and you can bet the companies offering will use it as such).

This is just a silly diversion. If under Bush you could have some hack install the "Office of Special" plans and circumvent the CIA and the Pentagon to push fraudulent information justifying an illegal war, then this "appearance of propriety" fluff is an intellectual insult. Anyone who thinks that Obama would be "bribed" by a token solar panel needs to get off the crack. If there were no rules regulating "dictator" Bush and his minions (e.g. Douglas Feith) then there are certainly none for Obama.

It's not so much appearance of propriety. It's that the solar companies are left out will be ticked off and complain.

Separation of powers.
Legislative branch makes the rules, the judicial branch interpret the rules, and the executive branch enforces the rules.

President Obama is head of the executive branch, he's not supposed to make the rules.

Sounds good in theory.....

As of W. Bush, this theory has been exposed for the crock that it is.

To think that there was an impeachment process for Bill Clinton over a blow job, but not a single challenge to do-whatever-I-want W.

The legislative branch passes legislation, which is then signed into law or vetoed by the executive, and, if challenged, declared constitutional or not by the Supreme Court.

A much larger and more detailed body of rules is formulated by the executive branch and associated government agencies and published in the Federal Register. The executive branches authority for making such rules is usually contained in legislation previously passed and signed into law.

See http://www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/

Realpolitik. I was of course speaking to specified powers. People seem hardwired to want one definitive ruler.

So sad. Perhaps I can figure out a way to persuade myself to take advantage of this tendency.

Actually, Congress passes laws and the executive formulates rules consistent with the laws.

Interesting interview with Jim Rogers over at Yahoo Finance. Didn't discuss Peak Oil but it's pretty obvious that this guy gets it. A liitle digging brings up this choice quote from a 2005 interview:

(on Hubbert’s Peak) I’m not a geologist and I haven’t been to all the oil fields in the world. I know there are people who are geologists who say we have passed the prime. I do know there have been no great oil discoveries anywhere in the world in over 35 years. I do know that all the great oil fields in the world are in decline. I mean, those are pretty simple facts that I haven’t seen anybody refute.

Anybody you ask, including the Alaskans, will tell you that their field production is declining now. Even Saudi Arabia is under a cloud. They keep saying they’re going to raise production and they don’t seem to be able to do it in any meaningful manner.

If you look at the statistics on Saudi Arabia, in 1979, Saudi Arabia, some people from ARAMCO announced that Saudi Arabia’s reserves were a total of 245 billion barrels – that was proven, possible and probably 245 billion in 1979. In 1988, Saudi Arabia announced that they had 260 billion barrels of reserves.

Every year since 1988, Saudi Arabia has announced that they have 260 billion barrels of reserves. It is staggering that for 17 years in a row, the reserves have never gone up and never gone down. There have been no major new discoveries in Saudi Arabia. And in that period of time, Saudi Arabia has produced 63 billion barrels of oil.

So even Saudi Arabia – and I certainly have no clue about the reality of Saudi Arabia – but even in Saudi Arabia, the facts are beginning to be very, very, very suspicious.

At least not everybody on Wall St. is clueless!

Alan from the islands

Gunmen Attack More NATO Supply Trucks in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Dozens of tanker trucks carrying fuel to Afghanistan for NATO troops were torched near Quetta in western Pakistan on Wednesday, the third major attack on supplies since Pakistan closed a border crossing to Afghanistan a week ago and the first at the only checkpoint that remained open.
About 40 tanker truckss were at the terminal, and about half were saved from the attack, Inspector Shakeel said.
In a sign that the government was continuing to distance itself from the attacks, the police chief in Quetta, Malik Muhammad Iqbal said it was not the responsibility of the government to provide security for the convoys. In the past few days, senior police officers have said the safety of the trucks lay with the fleet owners who had signed contracts with NATO.

If this keeps up, the US military may find themselves fighting a war the old fashioned way, as in, boots on the ground. No fuel means no Hummers or helicopters available for instant action, so it's back to man-to-man combat on the ground or sitting behind the blast walls of a base. The Air Force and the drone warriors could end up being the last line of defense. Are the Marines being taught how to ride horses and mules these days? Thinking of horses, what was that national sport in Afghanistan, goat polo?

E. Swanson

I'm sure they'll put a priority on keeping the vehicles fueled. And they are bringing in PV to power more of the electronic technology.

But the barracks might be somewhat cold this winter.

One wonders how many tanker trucks there are in Afghanistan and Pakistan. If the rate of destruction of tankers reaches a high enough level, Pakistan will also experience shortages in areas now served by those tankers. It's rather like blowing up an oil pipeline repeatedly, I would think. My WAG is that at some point, the shortage of tankers in Pakistan would result in such loud political unrest that the Government of Pakistan might order the tankers to stop the flow of fuel into Afghanistan. Thus, you may be right about the barracks being rather cold this winter...

E. Swanson

Sounds familiar.

In 1940 and 1941 the primary concern of Winston Churchill was the rate of destruction of ocean transport (by submarines which, in retrospect, were much like suicide bombers).

A bit off topic with peak oil, but with enough PV, and capacitors, they could always assist in defending the base using Rail Guns ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Railgun )

Would be interesting to see if anyone has successfully done scaling down to using as a rifle replacement.

but with enough PV, and capacitors, they could always assist in defending the base using Rail Guns

Rail guns are great for high velocity experiments. But, the power released by a single shot does a lot of damage to the rails, and after not very many shots, a complete rebuild must be done. You also need repeatability of muzzle velocity and direction, so as to be able to hit a target. I don't know where repeatability is (I bet its classified), but I doubt it is very good. Sure the play-soldiers on Stargate blow up alien spaceships with railguns all the time, but back in the realworld things have to accomodate the laws of physics.

Work on rail ablation is being done, but even then, these things will only be used on ships and later all electric tanks given the power requirement.

It seems a bit overkill firing a solid slug at several klicks/second at a few guerilla insurgents, but then, we dropped JDAMs on them too, so maybe not.

Green Berets prowled foothills at night on horseback

Before dawn one recent morning, as much of the city slept, a small group of elite Fort Carson soldiers was choppered onto a mountain clearing near Colorado Springs and left to find its way down — in the dark, on horseback.

It’s an image straight out of a military thriller, but it’s exactly how Green Berets from the post’s 10th Special Forces Group have been training for upcoming operations.

The horsemanship training at the Stables at the Broadmoor — which began in late July and concluded last week — offers a rare glimpse at what the unit expects on the battlefield ...


Green Berets (and Special Ops) are not regular Army or Marines. Sure, a few guys on horseback did some awesome fighting at the start of the Afghanistan war, for example, acting as forward observers calling in B-52's on the Taliban, but that's not the way the war is going these days. We don't win the hearts and minds of the neighbors by dropping missiles from Predator drones on some people in mud huts...

E. Swanson

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending October 1, 2010 [PDF]

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 14.2 million barrels per day during the week ending October 1, 515 thousand barrels per day below the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 83.1 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production decreased last week, averaging 8.8 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production decreased last week, averaging 4.2 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 8.9 million barrels per day last week, down by 79 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 9.1 million barrels per day, 262 thousand barrels per day below the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 713 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 179 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 3.1 million barrels from the previous week. At 360.9 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 2.6 million barrels last week and are above the upper limit of the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories and blending components inventories decreased last week. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 1.1 million barrels and are above the upper boundary of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased by 0.6 million barrels last week and are near the lower boundary of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 0.1 million barrels last week.

Dreary economic news today. The jobs reports were worse than expected. Things are going to get ugly for city budgets, as falling home prices affect real estate taxes. Oil inventory report showed a build, larger than expected, but oil is up anyway because of currency fears.

The Automatic Earth is predicting GDP to go negative again next year, and it's looking like they might be right.

Ilargi has been posting some downright scary plots over at TAE using the CMI numbers as a predictor of where the economy is headed.

Free fall is the term that comes to mind...

Check out his posts if you haven't yet - if you want to freak yourself out that is...




The projected drop isn't as steep as the last one (the so-called Great Recession). And it's kind of nebulous, predicting a year ahead, anyway.

Still...a double dip will be murder on state and local government budgets. They always lag the rest of the economy anyway, and a lot of things they've done to plug the budget gaps are based on the hope that there will be a boom after the bust, and sooner rather than later.

I wonder how Newt's plan to vilify foodstamps is gonna go over.

I disagree, Leanna. Reading The Automatic Earth: October 5 2010: An 800-Pound Gorilla On A Serious Diet, the projected drop is worse in 2 out of 3 of the categories of CMI data. The 90 day is already pointing to -6.11 vs an actual low of -6.02 for the "Great Recession" and likewise the 360 day trend line is also below their predecessors. Only the 180 day trend line is above the Great Recession and then only by a tiny margin. In short, the predictors all line up indicating a crisis potentially as severe as the last crisis. However, in addition to the consumer side of the equation, which is what CMI tracks, we are now also facing sovereign debt crises (multiple) that we did not face at the same point before the prior contraction. This "recovery" (what a joke!!!) is about to be declared DOA.

There is additional data available aside from the CMI data. Things are getting very dicey and the Fed knows it. This is why an administration official casually tossed a $7 TRILLION number out today on CNBC for the next round of bailouts (aka Quantitative Easing v2.0).

The financial collapse may not have been caused by peak oil (I know this point will get debated back and forth but it was primarily caused by fraudulent lending) but peak oil absolutely will act as a cap on any possibility of recovery unless or until an alternate energy source replaces oil as the primary energy source of our civilization. And despite all the talk about renewables and about nuclear, this has not yet occurred, meaning that this is primarily a problem of politics, not of technical solutions. And by technical solutions, I don't mean cornucopian solutions that lead to ever more growth, but rather simply any technical solution that allows us a "soft landing" from the end of fossil fuels. Consequently I see no solution to the problems of the economy and no viable solution to the energy question, meaning we are setting ourselves up for the big fall as a civilization.

P.S. Gingrich doesn't get it. Neither do the bulk of the Republicans. And the Democrats definitely are lost in la-la land. More proof that the politics of a solution are impossible to muster at this point in time.

I wasn't talking about the depth of the drop (which is as yet unknown, near as I can tell), but the rate of change.

Ah, ok, gotcha. :)

Ahh, it's all OK, after all the new Chevy Volt is out.

I agree with you. I've been reading those posts on the CMI as well. I think it's about to get very serious.

Leanan- you know these numbers better than I: has the rise in GDP been high/long enough to talk about a dip or has it been more of an potential early undulating plateau as some postulate for PO?

Click on the Automatic Earth link. There are charts that show you what you want to know.

Leanan - Will do...mucho thanks. But I'm still interested in how you and others view the GDP pattern as a potential undulating plateau instead of the historic peaks and valleys. I base this analogy to a PO plateau on nothing...just pure speculation. But it does seem to fit into the discussion of a fast vs. slow crash.

I don't think it's an undulating plateau. There are definitely peaks and valleys.

Here is a link to official US quarterly GDP growth figures. Definitely peaks and valleys. Trend not looking good.


I got it from here:


Sorry, still haven't learned how to paste in charts.

Jack - Thanks but I was referring to the absolute GDP and not changes. What got me thinking about the plateau model was a posting a few days back showing unemployment during pre and post recession periods. In the past employment typically showed a nice peak build up following the drop during the preceding recession. But not this time. Unemployment stopped it's plunge but has stayed low compared to every other previous recovery for at least the last 60 years according to that chart. More simply put if GDP had been X previously but is now showing it's increased Y% from the low that increase isn't that much good news if, after the increase, GDP is still significantly less than X. Loosing half of you $million savings is bad. And increasing your savings 20% is nice but that only means you now have $600,000. A nice improvement but still not back to the $1 million you had initially. You have not recovered despite a 20% increase in yourr savings.

This is why I'm developing the opinion that the % increase in GDP isn't very telling. Folks keep asking why unemployment is still so high in the face of GDP growth. I don't have the numbers to back it up but it seems simple: GDP may be increasing but it's still a long way (in absolute terms) from where it was in previous years. And that would explain the continued low unemployment IMHO. Of course, there are other factors (uncertainty by businesses about future tax rate and insurance costs) but to my simplistic eyes there should be a direct relationship between ABSOLUTE GDP and employment. But not so much between changes in GDP and employment. And from thus springs my thoughts of an undulating plateau of employment/economic "health" that might parallel a PO plateau.


And Paul Krugman and Joe Stiglitz, and James Galbraith, and Brad deLong, and many other people who actually understand macroeconomics have been pointing out again and again that bad policy choices, based upon bad analyses, built on the unlearning of the lessons of the Great Depression and/or of Japan's stagnation and other recent experiences are undermining economic recovery in USland. In circumstances which scream out for a major fiscal stimulus, the US has seen no real increase in government spending, as a modest expansion at the federal level has been undermined by state and municipal retrenchment.

Fortunately, the homogenization of the world economy under American leadership/insistence-through-force was never achieved and is now gone into reverse.

Diversity among nations is adaptively useful. Some nations, not likely the US after decades of the richly financed, right wing 'think'-tanks' dumb-down-the-public campaign, will pursue successful policies and eventually others will follow.

I hope you're right, but I have serious doubts that any policy can fix this mess. I fear Krugman is a lefty version of the supply-siders, insisting that their plan would have worked, they just didn't do enough of it.

I don't think we learned anything from the Great Depression. We thought we did, but we were fooling ourselves. In any case, peak oil means things that might have worked before may not this time.

I thought Stoneleigh said something brilliant in an interview I heard recently - actually I think it was a snippet from a tribute to TAE on youtube...

She said something to the effect that any policy / regulation designed to help address the things that got us into a problem like the Great Depression (or maybe now the Great Recession)are inevitably dismantled just before we get to the point of really needing them to kick in. We get just far enough down the road that any of the players in the current landscape can no longer quite understand the lessons of the past and fall prey to the "it's different this time" mentality... and that's how we continually make the same mistakes and never seem to learn a thing from our history.

Some things helped a lot in the US. 1. FDIC insurance, and the FDIC management of 100's of failed smaller banks, stopped an even larger run on the banks. 2. Unemployment benefits helped people I know survive 6 months to a year without loosing their houses, or being otherwise destitute. 3. Where I work we got additional stimulus funding through the NIH and hired additional people, so the stimulus at least partially worked, although I can see an argument about how much and how efficient. I wonder if without these things we would have had a second great depression?

I think the jury's still out on whether this will turn into a second great depression.

I think the jury's still out on whether this will turn into a second great depression.

In our area of Northern Cal. it's weird! Suddenly in the last few weeks the roads are full of cars again. The stores are full and its like someone turned a switch. I'm thinking people actually believed the Govt. when they told them the recession was over in June 09, which of course we all know is a crock - 09 was a disaster. But the bad news is oil is already going up fast headed in the direction of another step down. The step down process of lower net energy is a process of undulations in the downward direction. Since real estate has already tanked, not sure there will be another such obvious tanking, but I'm sure there will be step downs with more businesses being shuttered and homes foreclosing. For right now though enjoy the temporary upsurge.

You have obtained some empirical data on how psychology is a major factor in economics. The government and the corporate elites are trying hard to convince people "not to worry and be happy". This way they minimize the positive feedback in depressions, where consumers pull back spending simply because of bad times and not because of lack of money. They have been doing a good job but it seems that real job losses and actual contraction of consumption is catching up.

convince people "not to worry and be happy". This way they minimize the positive feedback in depressions, where consumers pull back spending simply because of bad times and not because of lack of money.

Yes, they have been trying. If they could just fool enough people into being happy and spending, then businesses would start hiring etc. Also the stock market is heavily impacted by psychological mood, so it would go up, and everyone's nominal net worth would increase, adding yet more fuel to the boomlet. But, people have mostly learned to be skeptical, so its not going to work. If it did, then we would see if a scarcity driven commodities spike would be the party-pooper.

I'm thinking people actually believed the Govt. when they told them the recession was over in June 09, which of course we all know is a crock - 09 was a disaster.

But, the official definition of in recession is the last two quarters of nomial (not inflated -or corrected for population growth) GDP is down. You can be narrowly out of recession, and still have things getting worse on main street. It is a matter of understanding what the terms, mean, and not being fooled by them.

Yes, I've noticed that, too, and have posted here about it.

However, the Great Depression was not a one-way plunge. GNP dropped after the crash, then bounced up, before dropping again. It was three or four years before the GNP reached bottom.

Every time the Keynesian solution fails to work they call for an even bigger dose of deficit spending. Yet the impact of deficit spending has been steadily falling for 50+ years as documented by both the IMF and the BIS. Instead, like a heroin junkie, we've become addicted to deficit spending in larger and larger doses with less and less effect each time. For any human being to proclaim that we didn't spend "enough" is laughable as this was the biggest bailout in the history of the world, yet it still didn't fix a damned thing. This isn't a liquidity crisis; it's a solvency crisis, which Krugman (and most of his disciples, a word I use deliberately) fail to understand.

The classic deficit spending solution does not work when a nation reaches certain levels of total debt and the US has passed that threshold a while ago. The research paper Growth in a Time of Debt documents the actual results of deficit spending across 44 countries spanning 200 years of data. The conclusion is clear - as total debt rises above certain key levels, there is less and less impact from deficit spending eventually dwindling to negative impacts. Your proclaimed understanding of debt is at odds with the actual facts. In other words, your theory fails to fit the actual observations and thus, your theory is invalidated (falsification is an essential part of the scientific method IF we accept the falsification).

For further corroboration that deficit spending has had less and less positive impact over time, I suggest reading Long-Wave, Fixed Investment, Inventory, and Demographic Cycles all Downwardly Converging. Mish's first graph clearly demonstrates that the "kick" from deficit spending has gotten weaker as debt has grown. Other people have covered this topic as well, often in more detail, including Steven Keen.

Yet here we are with Keynesians claiming that even more deficit spending is what is needed. Just like Krugman, his disciples call for ever larger batches of deficit spending when the facts clearly state that the result will be other than your prediction. Just like Krugman, his disciples fail to apply the scientific method. A real scientist would modify or abandon a theory that was so at odds with observed data. Are you brave enough to question your own beliefs once falsified or are you going to cling to the deficit spending myth to the bitter end?

NOTE: I am the guy that is up 31% in my investments since BEFORE Bear Stearns. That's right, I've not lost a dime and am instead 31% ahead after 2+ years. I think I understand the economy well enough to discuss it, especially when factual data directly contradicts beloved and protected Keynesian dogma. And I stand by my statement that a rational man would re-examine his beliefs when data contradicts theory. The question then is how many of us are rational versus rationalizing?

It seems that one of the major problems is that most people are locked into the current economic paradigm and can't/won't think their way out of the box.

Applying the deficit/surplus lock step to sovereign governments is ridiculous.A sovereign government has complete control of it's own currency and it can't go broke.The government can create money to pay their unemployed to work on useful projects.As long as they are mindful of the need to balance supply and demand to avoid inflation and a wage/price spiral then they are performing a good work by any measure.A sovereign government is not a household where expenditure must not exceed income for any length of time otherwise all hell will break loose.

Shouting Keynes as a term of abuse simply brands the abusers as being out of touch with reality.Keynes advocated certain measures to ameliorate some of the effects of the First Great Depression.These measures were somewhat effective,I believe.We are now entering the Second Great Depression.So what is your problem with Keynes?

By the way,nations like Portugal,Ireland,Italy,Greece and Spain are not sovereign governments in the sense that they do not control their currency.This is the fundamental cause of their current economic problems and is the reason why the European Monetary Union will probably fail unless there is political union.This would be in the political no go zone.

People like you keep stating the same things then ignoring the factual data. You totally ignored 44 countries and 200 years of factual data in favor of your personal dogma. You failed to address those facts and even deliberately ignored them because they upset your personal apple cart. Cognitive dissonance anyone?

By the way, give us a prediction, please, which is what any good scientist should be able to do from a particular theory. How much stimulus is "enough" since the several trillion spent so far hasn't worked? You should at least be able to get into the ballpark on the amount needed. I won't hold you to exact dollar numbers but you should be able get within at least few trillion dollars, right?

Shouting more Krugmanisms - calls of "MORE!" - each time the same policy fails again doesn't validate a theory that has repeatedly failed. Or is the scientific method not applicable to the so-called "science" of economics?

But, most of that debt you mention is private debt, not public debt. We got to such large levels of debt because of the actions of our financial system, which allowed massive borrowing of funny money after the controls were removed from the financial system when the Glass-Steagall Act was essentially repealed. Along with later changes under Bush 43, the financial industry grew to something like 40% of the US GDP.

As for deficit spending by the US Government, one should also note that the largest additions to the National Debt were under Republican administrations before the Greatest Recession. That deficit spending pumped up the economy in times when it wasn't really needed, because of the political philosophy of the Republicans under Ronnie RayGun, which was an attempt to "starve the beast" (the Federal Government) by forcing reductions in spending. (Remember that during the Reagan/Bush 41 years, the Federal Deficit went from $1 Trillion to $4 Trillion.) It didn't work out that way, cause the Rethugs insisted that more resources be funneled into the MIC.

But, now that we are in a serious mess, will you tell us exactly how to fix things, other than pumping more money into the economy on a temporary basis? Have you noticed the the banks, which received so much support, still aren't lending that money out to the people who need it for business, instead using those accounts to pump up their balance sheets? What will happen if the economy can't pick up speed and provide jobs for those of us who are out of work, (like me)? Do you think all us out-of-work guys will just simply sit back and starve to death? Have you ever been to a gun show and noticed how many guns are going out the door in the hands of Joe Sixpack? If you have any solutions, other than another gripe about your perceived need to cut the deficit, please post them...

E. Swanson

While I think that the Democrats are also, in general, full of @#$&^%, I think you've nailed the Republicans to a 'T' here.

I think the Republicans are more dangerous, but I'll only vote for a Democrat if I think it will keep a Republican out of office.

Here are the facts as I understand them.

Australia applied Keynesian theory straight from the text-book. It calculated the size of stimulus needed and transferred that amount of money directly to households.

In the USA the federal government's "stimulus" almost exactly offset the state and local governments' cuts. The stimulus came partly in the form of tax cuts which don't increase consumption as much as a transfer does.

The USA had a stimulus one-quarter the size needed, according to the textbook, and it was badly applied, being partly tax cuts to people who were unlikely to spend the money. It (temporarily) stopped things getting worse, but that was all.

Australia followed Keynesian theory and never had a recession. The USA did not follow the theory, and did suffer a recession and is suffering an agonising "recovery".

This comparison is a pretty strong confirmation that Keynesian theory works.

These are the facts and the deduction from them. Any opposing conclusion is ideologically-induced blindness.

Australia followed Keynesian theory and never had a recession. The USA did not follow the theory, and did suffer a recession and is suffering an agonising "recovery".

Even worse the US tried half (or should I use your number a quarter of the recommended dose), but in any case just enough that the skeptics can say -the patient took the medicine but sill got sicker. Thats pretty much what happened in GD1, the reaction to scary deficits was to cut back on the program, and blamo the recovery stalled out. And again, since some meds were taken, the easy conclusion is it didn't work. So now we are screwed, since both too weak applications have discredited the theory.

Another good argument is that we have three sectors in the US with debt. Families, businesses, and government. Since debt is two sided, if one of the triad decreases its debt, the others must increase theirs. So we hit an economic bad patch, and families and businesses are desperate to pay down their debt. But that is impossible unless the third party increases theirs.

That is an interesting theory... based on a mere assertion. Or have you found a new economic truism, that debt must equal out, and a reduction by one side must result in a net increase by the others. Would not the inverse also be true, then, and when one side increases its debt the others must reduce theirs? The data just does not prove this assertion. Hence, though if the premises were true it may be valid in form, it is unsound and false.


By the way,nations like Portugal,Ireland,Italy,Greece and Spain are not sovereign governments in the sense that they do not control their currency.

Same for the US of A.

Every time the Keynesian solution fails to work they call for an even bigger dose of deficit spending.

1) Many people think the economic model in play is Keynesian. (Hint: It is not. A good name is still needed for what the model actual is)
2) Look at the riots in the EU over austerity measures. Do you think that, if the tea party got its lower taxing and spending that the US of A would not have the same thing happen in the US of A?

The problem, eric, is that there really is no choice left in the matter. Tax receipts cover 57% of expenditures. Costs of entitlements takes 58% of the budget. So before we have spent one penny on interest, defense, roads, courts, etc. (all that stuff government is assumed to do anyway), we're already in the red. Allowing the Bush tax cuts to lapse won't help things at all and it may slightly hurt the economy more, but it does nothing towards establishing sustainable fiscal policies. In other words, the entire Bush tax cut argument is irrelevant due to the gross size of the deficit.

So the entitlements are going to get cut one way or another, either via the direct collapse of the entire financial house of cards or through direct cuts to bring them back in line with taxes. And right now it would take almost a 75% increase in all tax rates at all levels to get us back to where the deficit is stable or slightly shrinking. That's not a healthy policy either.

And finally, as you noted elsewhere, the US is not the master of its own currency either so that entire line of argument is a non-starter from people who make it.

P.S. Keynesian is as good a term as any at the moment. Much of the ideology IS derived from Keynes though some of his original thoughts are also ignored or rejected. But feel free to come up with an equivalent term that everyone is going to accept and I'll use it. For the present, like it or not, this sort of policy is called Keynesian. Do you have a better suggestion that will be widely accepted?

Interesting also that Canada has a) entered the recession with a larger national debt per capita than the US. Is indisputably running a far more social-democratic system of government than the US, universal government health insurance, employment insurance much stronger, etc. etc. etc. c) done comparable fiscal stimuli and corporate bailouts for GM, but needed to do none for any banks, as regulations didn't allow Cdn banks to get involved in mortgage derivatives (only one bank, CIBC, relatively small in Canada, got caught holding $345 million of them, less than 1 quarter's profit.) d) is hailed worldwide as being the strongest developed-world economy, and the model for how to handle banking. RBC is now the fifteenth largest investment banker worldwide.

I suggest that this evidence indicates that the entire problem in the US was the repeal by the Republican Senate in '98 of Glass-Steagal, combined with overly lax rules on what mortgages the federal government would insure. It's happened at least three times now, at intervals of about one human lifetime. Takes that long for people to forget the damage of the prior event. Once they forget, the very wealthy will again arrange to have common-sense regulation of their activities removed, an away things go again.

People suggesting that Canada and Australia avoided recession are refusing to look at the data. Further, Australia and Canada have worse housing bubbles than the US. They just have not popped yet.

Multiple people here point to the repeal of Glass-Steagall as part of the problem, and I agree with that. But you can't continually pretend that bad loans are good in order to continue a falsehood of deficit spending. Taxes need to go up by about 75% just to break even in the current environment. What exactly would a 75% tax increase do to the remainder of the economy right now? Glass-Steagall needs reinstated AND the too-big-to-fail banks need to be broken up. But even that doesn't fix the problem of the bad debt weighing down these institutions. And that bad debt was created with YOUR savings, meaning that you are broke too and you just don't realize it yet.

On the other hand, the banks hold tens of trillions in bad debt collectively. To cover this via some form of monetization requires tens of trillions to be monetized. Down that path lies Zimbabwe.

So what do people want? Zimbabwe or Greece? Many seem to want their cake and they want to eat it too. I'm sorry but reality doesn't work that way. Just like peak oil, this financial mess is not going to have a pretty ending whether individuals like it or not. And I am NOT happy with that and I do NOT want it to happen. I like most of the aspects of the very comfortable civilization in which I grew up. But it's simple foolishness to assume that this can be fixed in any manner that does not leave almost everyone poorer (if not everyone).

P.S. Look at the housing bubbles in Ireland, Spain, Greece, and Great Britain. Then tell me that Glass Steagall (a US law) caused those housing bubbles and those housing crashes and I will tell you that you're insane. Banking regulation not only got lax in the US but also in many nations around the world so it's not a US only problem. And now that the MBS's have been sold worldwide, it is surely not a US only problem. Europe has consistently failed to solve its problems and instead keeps covering up, like a kitten on the rug. And every month the sovereign debt monster raises its ugly head again requiring even more craziness by central bankers to keep it under control just a little longer. But no solution is actually offered!

Right now there are more (fraudulent) claims against actual physical wealth than there is physical wealth to go around. That sort of make-believe can never be made to work long term. At best it can be continued a while and passed off on the next generation. Is that what the "reality based" community here at TOD dares to suggest? Please tell me that's not so. It's time to face the fact that we have more claims than we can cover and to scale back everything to some level that we can support. Is that going to hurt? You bet it is! I am not rich and I expect to pay more for everything, make less, have less access to health care, and probably never "retire" in the traditional sense of the last few generations. I don't like that one bit, but at least I am looking reality square in the eye rather than crying in my beer and pretending that everything can be made happy again with more printing bullshit.

The rest of you are free to believe in monetization fairy godmothers. I refuse.

Way back before the Recession began, when it was clearly coming and being denied, my belief was that the so called economic experts, Keynesian, Austrian, Neo-Classical, whatever, were all guessing and that it was a crap shoot. My opinion has not changed.

There have been a number of discussions on TOD about the debt unwind that is way past due... and debt becomes a controlling factor today.

For instance: I do not blame banks for not lending money. Who would want to back a new enterprise today? Things are just too uncertain, and we have become so risk averse that no one with less than 50% capitalization is going to be in play. OPM is out of the question.

Solution? We unwind some more. It looks to me that the Fed wants high inflation to ring out US debt at least. They have done everything that they can to make it happen. And still, the problems persist...

What loan today would be a good one? Would you lend to Greece, Spain, or GM? Why would you feel a great deal more comfort in lending to the US? Or your local bond-issuing municipality or state? And, this attitude is in place throughout the economic melieu. Moreover, it is one of the driving forces that may well lead to the second dip, and the reality of a new Great Depression.

Of course, here we realize that there is no cheap energy to help propel society out of the doldrums. With no investment money, mineral mining will suffer. There will be fewer discoveries, and of those fewer leading to productive wells or mines. The idea that solar or wind will pull our cart out of the ditch is a pipedream, and you would need to be smoking some really wild stuff to believe it will. The real solution is the unthinkable. Downsize humanity, reduce our energy use by 80% or more, and learn to live with that as the new reality.

This would mean reduction in fast communications, and certainly an end to fast transportation worldwide. It would mean limited world trade due to inadequate shipping (not the ships... they are already here, but the fuel needed). It would mean finding new ways to manufacture necessaries (and a limitation to mostly necessaries and luxuries being really rare). All of the chucking and jiving going on today is going to succeed only in delaying the inevitable and making it much worse. Would that the market was capable of signaling what needs to be done.

My opinion of what we should be doing at TOD has been stated frequently. We should be engaged in discussion of options for the new paradigm. In preparing each other, and educating others for what is in the offing. You seem to be well versed in economics. What do you suggest that would make a negative growth economy work? How do we implement npg sans disaster? How is the remaining energy triaged? By whom?

Many of the far right wierdos in the TEA party attack the 'intellectual elite' whom they say, 'think they know better than we do what to do." My question: Why would the less educated know more than the more educated? It brings to mind the song about, "The more I study, the more I know, the more I know, the more I forget, the more I forget the less I know, so why study?" It is a cute ditty, but is dangerous when groups apply that mentality to reality. Frankly, I want the best educated, and the best thinkers I can find the run things. Keeping in mind, that we are all guessing!

Best wishes for one day retiring (before death). I tried that once and it has not worked out so well for me.


Many of the far right wierdos in the TEA party attack the 'intellectual elite' whom they say, 'think they know better than we do what to do."

Is it a case where the 'intellectual elite' actually know better or are, like most people, working their own angle and are not being 100% honest? This week - the CBC stopped using CC music. Plenty of bullshit claims and once the actual answer was given they no longer looked like a group of people who knew better than the 'common man'.

Another example someone claims "national security" or "business trade secret" - are they valid claims or is the reality the security of the nation dependent on an embarrassing issue not being told?

Depends on who you want to count among the elite.

You qualify as an intellectual elite by all standards that don't include "and disagrees with me on everything I care about".

Are you pursuing a selfish agenda with everything you write?

Assuming you're not, isn't it also a reasonable assumption that at least some of the intellectual elite that disagree with you do so because they either know things you don't, don't know things you do, or some combination of the two?

I certainly don't agree with everything you write, but it seems to me that there is quite a bit of education and thought behind most of it.

Depends on who you want to count among the elite.

And that is part of the issue. Elite is a label - and once you start arguing labels things can go off the rails rather fast.

Arguing to labels allows for not only wiggle room, but people to agree with things not in their best interest. (what's the matter with Kansans as an example)

And exposure to the same message over and over has an effect. Berneys Propaganda/Public Relations are examples of works about the idea of repetitive messages.

Are you pursuing a selfish agenda with everything you write?

I'm sure it could be reduced to such because the mass of humanity can be argued as selfish. Using others here as a sounding board and the refinement of arguments/thinking - is that selfish?

Interesting also that Canada has a) entered the recession with a larger national debt per capita than the US.

Typically wealth is created by extraction industries and I'm betting Canada has a rather good 'we can extract these resources and create value' ratio than most nation-states.

I suggest that this evidence indicates that the entire problem in the US was the repeal by the Republican Senate in '98 of Glass-Steagal, combined with overly lax rules on what mortgages the federal government would insure.

I'll state that such a view does not conform to the reality that as the supply of money increases the pricing of housing increases.

In the days of 18% interest - if you had to borrow to obtain a home, that cost of borrowing would limit the price you could pay and therefore caused housing prices to be lowered.

Worldwide the money printing habits of various nation-states and a deflating stock market resulted in excess liquidity. That money sought someplace and found real estate - thus driving up prices.

Re: For Those Near, the Miserable Hum of Clean Energy, up top.

The people complaining about wind turbine noise in the video are nit pickers. Obviously they have never lived in a big city as millions do.

I had a house in Minneapolis for 34 years. It was about 4 blocks away from 35W in N.E. Minneapolis. The roar of the traffic was constant.

The fire station was about 3 blocks away and nearly ever night there was a call requiring the fire truck sirens. Add in the police sirens rushing up and down Johnson St. N.E. and hardly a night passed without being woke up.

The nearest wind turbine to the home place sounds about like in the video except where the guy has his computer turned up loud to exaggerate the sound.

This wind turbine is less than a quarter mile from the house. It is close enough that at the right time of day and at the right season, the turbine blades cast a shadow across the house as they pass, which can be annoying.

Renewable energy is not with out its costs. Those who think renewables must be as cheap and convenient as fossil fuels are delusional. The energy world is changing and there will be costs and inconveniences. But none of them are unbearable IMO.

Normally, from a half mile or more away the turbines are silent. Perhaps they can be heard if the wind is from the right direction.

Lives are not ruined just because perfect silence is lost, nor are lives ruined by the view of wind turbines. There are people who just want to fuss about something and make there lives out of finding something to fuss about.

I smell a couple of people looking for a quick buck settlement.

Wind turbine sounds are about like background noise in a big city.

Quite apart from their effect on the environment just how effective are wind turbines in providing useful amounts of useable electricity at the right times relative to the investment?

I suspect that of all the renewables wind generation is the one which will go down in history as the greatest waste of resources.

And for my part, I'd say that a generating source that has been able to return its embedded energy in 9 months (for the larger industrial turbines) is going to prove your shadenfreude to be seriously premature.

Your first question begs some laying out of your assumptions. It sounds like you would be insisting that they provide power when YOU want it, and as much as you demand. Good luck with that.

A smart cobber will find a way to collect those pennies from heaven when they're falling, and not just complain because they fell at an inconvenient time.

There are all sorts of storage possibilities that just have to be implemented, no new discoveries required. Homes and businesses could key into 'surplus windpower rates' to have their freezers store extra cold, their water heaters store extra heat, insulated thermal mass in their basement could store heat or cold. Any number of automated industrial processes could be activated or ramped up in speed when there is cheap power available to use, such that 'Finished Products' become a form of stored energy.

I think imagination is a renewable resource we need to make better use of.

You can imagine as much as you like.So can I.But just how practical our imaginings are is another thing altogether.

What a droll non-answer, Thirra.

I just offered three practical suggestions that involve equipment that is already BROADLY in place (quick scalability), just requiring a pretty simple signal/control addition, with perhaps some boosted storage volume and insulation.. and you snark on 'Imagination' like it's a bit of hopeless fantasy?

It's really easy to knock any old thing down if you're ready to antagonize even your own brain's ability to find ways to help them work.

Don't forget that your criticisms are the work of your imagination as well. You can push it in either direction you choose to. Where are you putting your energy?


"Grandson, I have two wolves inside me, doing battle, forever warring. One is the wolf that helps me move toward light, and the other is the wolf that keeps me in the dark. They are very fierce enemies."

"Which one will win, Grandfather?"

"Whichever one I feed."

just how effective are wind turbines in providing useful amounts of useable electricity at the right times relative to the investment?

At the right time?

Strikes me that 'the right time' is when the wind blows.

But given you've not defined what 'the right time' is, any response may not be what you ment.

Here is a list of materials on the web that you can use to research this subject, from a previous post. The Minnesota Dept of Health document is especially interesting as it summarizes several European studies.

Ontario protesters claim wind turbines are making them sick

Wind industry expert panel gives wind a clean bill of health

Missouri family can't cope with wind turbine noise

Australian study says wind turbines do NOT make people sick

Minnesota Department of Health; Public Health Impacts of Wind Turbines (PDF)

Are Wind Turbines Making Japanese Citizens Sick?

Wind Turbines Make People Sick with Noise and “Strobe Effect”

French Academy of Medicine warns of wind turbine noise (with link to French study PDF)

The war over wind; Critics say green groups are too tight with industry


UC Davis unveils green, wireless winery

SAN JOSE, Calif. - A newly completed winery, brewery and food-processing complex at the University of California at Davis claims to be the world's greenest--and first wireless--facility of its kind. The $20 million, 34,000-square-foot teaching-and-research complex is expected to be the first winery, brewery or food-processing facility to earn LEED Platinum certification. The building includes an onsite solar power generation and a large-capacity system for capturing rainwater and conserving processing water. The stored rainwater will be used for landscaping and toilets, per LEED specifications.
The complex is said to use the world’s first wireless wine-fermentation system, a $1 million assembly of 152 wireless grape fermentors. This was designed, fabricated and donated by a team of research engineers led by T.J. Rodgers, founder, president and chief executive officer of San Jose-based Cypress Semiconductor.

The complex is said to use the world’s first wireless wine-fermentation system, a $1 million assembly of 152 wireless grape fermentors.


Archaeological evidence suggests that the earliest wine production came from sites in Georgia and Iran, dating from 6000 to 5000 BC.

I'm going to go out on a vine here and suggest that they were waaaay ahead of their time because they were wireless too >;^)

Anywhere near this, Fred?


p.s.: Hope your folks are upstream from Ajka. A sad time for the Magyar Alföld.


Iraq's new reserves buck 'peak oil' crisis

BAGHDAD (UPI) -- Iraq's sharp upward revision of its oil reserves to 143.1 billion barrels, and the prospect that there's much more to come, has cemented the country's status as a long-term energy producer when researchers say global oil output is set to decline.

Where has the Author of this article been? The ME is a culture that for whatever reason has no qualms with lying if they think it will achieve their goals. Look at Chalabi who claimed WMD in Iraq and there turned out to be none. Chalabi even had a bogus map of where this stuff was, but none of those locations panned out.

So now some guy in Iraq comes out with a bold statement and this Author just eats it up like it was a meal right in front of him?! He even uses the word 'cemented' to describe how solid the information is. Maybe he should avoid drinking water for fear the cement in his head will mix with the rocks rolling around in his cranium and form concrete. I wouldn't believe an official in the ME unless there was an accredited independent non-ME tech group standing right behind him with the data and analysis to back it up.

Let's wait and see what Iraq can extract. Let the chips fall where they may, rather than presuming boisterous wild off the cuff claims have any basis in truth.

So the reserves went up by 40% and that surely must mean 12 million barrels per day of production capacity. In fantasy land. Perhaps if the reserves went from 100 to 300 billion barrels there would be something to talk about. These 40 billion barrels are about 1.3 years of world consumption and they do not change the fact that we are finding much less than we are consuming. Meanwhile demand is growing in China, India and the other parts of the world (the US consumption drop is not global).

Meanwhile, we read that China plans to keep expanding and 'growing' until their per capita income reaches ours. That is an increase of, what, 1300 percent?



If Iraq's reserves revision was creditable, oil prices would have collapsed. But this has been a strong week for crude, especially considering economic news.


Jack - I get your drift but I doubt oil buyers/sellers negotiate over how much they'll trade oil for next month based on how much any country offers as their "proven reserve" base. Very long term futures players...maybe. And I still have to go back to the same basic point: Any proven recoverable reserve number (from any source and any country) is meaningless unless it includes the pricing assumtptions. Iraq may have suddenly "discovered" an extra 100 billion bbls of technically recoverable oil. But if that recovery requires a sustained oil price of $200/bbl (2010 $'s) then we might not want to add it to the kitty. Secondly, even if a pricing platform is included (and is credible) what does that number really mean to the future if it doesn't include a nominal production rate? Mexico's heavy onshore oil field may hold many billions of bbls of producible oil at current prices. But if they can't ramp the rate above 100,000 bopd then it has little impact on the future of global oil supplies IMHO.

FOR ALL (and jack/leanan)

Picking back up the discussion of the meaning of the current "growth" in GDP and why such happy times don't seem very happy to may folks. The early discussion dealt with, IMHO, an over importance of the quarterly change in GDP. Finally found what I was looking for: http://www.measuringworth.com/datasets/usgdp/result.php. A great link. Gives decades of various GDP values: nominal, real, per capita, etc. A big bonus: you can chart with a click. Virtually every metric shows a plateau in GDP starting as early as 2005 and as late as 2007. Granted the data really only shows the possible start of a plateau...the future remains to be seen. But more significantly all the metrics show a fairly constant climb until the mid 2000's. And then it appears we've entered a very new world in terms of absolute GDP. So what if GDP showed an X% increase last quarter. The GDP last quarter is still unchanged for the most part in absolute value from where it was 3 to 5 years ago. The change in the trends in not the least bit subtle.

I'm very curious to see how the more economic savvy TODers view these numbers. Perhaps just a coincidence that this possible new trend starts at about the same time as some folks feel the possible PO effects are starting to manifest themselves. Perhaps not.